2012 Review of Sage Master Builder
Feb. 15, 2012
Sage Master Builder
Sage Master Builder is designed for growing mid-sized construction businesses looking for industry-focused features, such as estimating, scheduling, payroll, job costing and service management, in addition to accounting and business operations functions.
- Enhanced user dispatch and dashboard overviews
- Customizable user home screens
- Comprehensive payroll management
- Full time audit trail
- Excellent job costing and reporting
- No native SaaS/web-version, but ASP hosting available
- GL accounts limited to 10 digit alpha-numeric IDs
With comprehensive modules and utilities for business accounting, Sage Master Builder provides construction and financials management. The program includes full GL, AR, AP, payroll equipment costing and job costing, along with tools for managing projects, subcontractors, inventories, service issues, project estimating and analysis. Sage Master Builder is designed to handle all aspects of construction management, from estimating, through invoicing, inventory management, job completion, accounting and reporting.
BASIC SYSTEM FUNCTIONS
Sage Master Builder opens into a full-screen interface that offers an expandable menu list of core program modules on the left, including the GL, accounting reporting, AR, AP, payroll, project management, utilities, equipment management, estimating, scheduling, service receivables, inventory and reporting. The home screen also offers icons for calendaring, a calculator, scheduled reports and help, and users can add custom links to specific areas of the program. Additionally, text-based links at the bottom of the screen give quick access to new user resources, customer resources, add-on products, an online learning center, checks and supplies, and additional free resources. The system also offers customizable user dashboards that can display key data, and new custom alerts let management know of important events and milestones.
When selecting one of the core modules from the menu, it expands to show specific functions within that module, making it easy to move to key and frequently-performed tasks. The Accounts Payable module, for instance, opens to offer links to payable reports, invoices/credits, vendor payments, vendor management, vendor 1099 functions and management of recurring payables.
Sage Master Builder is designed for use on Windows-based computers, and can be networked or installed on all computers in the business, with the number of concurrent users based on the license. The program also can be used to run multiple, separate construction entities with the same license, and also supporting firms with multiple office, worksite and inventory locations.
CORE ACCOUNTING CAPABILITIES
Sage Master Builder includes a fully-integrated accounting system that includes GL, AR, AP, invoicing, purchase orders, payroll and equipment costing, with a full-time audit trail to ensure data integrity. The system offers four templates for setting up common charts of accounts for construction and contractor entities, or the ability to create complete customized charts. The GL supports 10-digit account number structures with additional customization options. Account management screens display charts and offer selection lists and tabbed views.
Vendor and customer lists in the AP and AR modules enable quick searching and drill-down access to contracts, as well as tabbed views for invoicing defaults, contact information, purchase orders, invoices, payments and certificates. Additional features in the AP module include management of credit card accounts, loan payments and vehicle cost and depreciation management.
When creating invoices, users can bill by job and phase, and can quickly view a contract summary that shows change orders, percent billed, balance on contract and percent complete. With the Time and Materials billing function within the AR module, the contractor can easily generate invoices based upon overhead costs and desired markup. On customer invoices, the markup can be visible or not shown, depending upon preference.
Sage Master Builder includes a full-time audit trail that tracks all transactions and data entry tasks, logging user, date and time. An audit error utility and payroll audit function are also included. A year-end closing wizard assists with the year-end closing process. The system offers user-level access rights and user groups, with granular permission to specific features. The program also offers additional optional modules for inventory, project management, scheduling, document control, estimating and equipment management.
Sage Master Builder has a strong collection of production-focused modules and features designed to streamline construction management tasking. To start with the beginning of a new project business cycle, the system’s estimating module helps to closely manage costs, and an add-on module, Sage Estimating, includes takeoff reports, parts pricing, assemblies, part/assembly classes, takeoffs, board footage and a parts database. As a result of this detailed management, the estimating feature helps create accurate cost projections that can be fully customized to each client or prospect, and that automatically use the most up-to-date pricing from subcontractors, vendors and labor. When converting an estimate into a live project, users can easily create budgets, subcontracts and purchase orders. The system also offers integration with third-party planning and estimating programs.
Sage Master Builder’s production-focused functions are centered around a impressive scheduling feature that helps optimize the use of resources and time, with project, subcontract, budget and milestone oversight easily viewed by foremen and management. It includes the ability to create task lists for vendors and subcontractors, and screens are automatically populated with data from the original estimate and change orders.
Project management tools include detailed job costing, with benchmarking of projects, subcontractor contracts and progress-based billing. Change order processing, including saving of customer approvals, is handled via easy-to-use screens that include project cost and billing changes. The system offers detailed customer management screens that include billing histories, payment details and access to certificates and additional customer information screens. Similar screens enable management of vendor data, with quick access to payables and purchase order functions. Subcontractor management utilities include budgeting and tracking of liability insurance certificates.
The built-in employee payroll functions include management tools that can track any number of deductions, multiple wages per employee, salary advances and bonuses. Inventory tools allow tracking individual parts and assemblies in multiple warehouse/yard locations. Purchasing capabilities include quick generation of purchase orders from estimates, and completion-based ordering. An equipment management feature also offers tracking and cost allocation to projects, while monitoring scheduled maintenance requirements.
Newly-enhanced dispatch options are focused on the dispatch board, with enables more effective management and communication with technicians in the field. It allows tracking of incoming calls, work orders and bills. The service management module offers color-coded prioritization of jobs and advance scheduling of technicians, with the ability to email service orders directly from within the program.
REPORTING & MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Sage Master Builder includes very impressive analysis and reporting capabilities, including overall financial analysis and project-by-project insight, with a total of more than 1,000 pre-configured, customizable reports. The report writing wizard guides you through custom report creation. For accounting-focused reporting, the system includes a library of GAAP statements, including multiple options for trial balance, balance sheet, income statement, GL, journals, check registers, cash flow statements, AP and AR aging and analysis, retention, and other financial reports and documents.
Construction-focused reporting options include extensive job costing with summaries, WIPs, billing and profitability, as well as bonding reports, budgeting, proposals and home builder reports. Customer invoicing is AIA compliant and the program offers customizable templates for client letters, proposals and estimates. Sage Master Builder includes a document control feature that stores job-related documents in a single location. A mobile app from Data-Maxx is available for time tracking, inventory and purchasing, and while SaaS and native remote access isn’t available, it can be used with third party remote access programs like LogMeIn and GoToMyPC. The system can also be hosted by an application service provider (ASP).
All of the modules in Sage Master Builder share databases that enable seamless integration with the other modules. Additionally, the system can work with Sage’s or other third party estimating programs and offers email dispatch and client communication functions.
Built-in support features include a getting started guide, fully indexed help utility and quick access to support and help topics from the program’s home page. Online support is accessible via personalizable customer portals, and include a knowledgebase, program updates, installation guides, access to the user community and tracking of support issues. Sage University also offers a variety of training options. The system is supported by a nationwide network of Sage partners who are available for training, implementation, sales and consulting. Updates are available by CD or manual download. All support is U.S. based.
SUMMARY & PRICING
With exceptional job costing, reporting and estimating features, Sage Master Builder is best suited to growing mid-sized construction firms that have outgrown generic small business accounting software. The core system, which includes GL, AP, AR, payroll and equipment costing, is priced at about $3,000 for the first software user. Pricing for additional modules, like service management, inventory, equipment management, document control, and estimating, varies.
2011 Overall Rating
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